Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

First ever Civic Data Challenge a success

Oct. 16, 2012, 12:55 p.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

The National Conference on Citizenship blogs about the success of its Civic Data Challenge, whch was presented in partnership with Knight Foundation.

The Civic Data Challenge was launched by NCoC in April 2012 to bring new eyes, minds, findings, and skill sets to “civic health” data ― information that shows how citizens are participating in their neighborhoods, communities and democracy. The challenge asked applicants to turn the raw data of civic health into beautiful, useful applications and visualizations, enabling communities to be better understood and made to thrive. The winners were announced at the 67th Annual National Conference on Citizenship. You can watch the video here.

More than 170 members joined the challenge community, and our team of outstanding judges reviewed entries that came in from more than 60 participants. Winning teams spanned the country, representing communities from San Francisco to Philadelphia, and Los Angeles to Burlington, Vermont. Participants included undergraduate students and nonprofit leaders, financial analysts and graphic designers, coders and even an astrophysicist.

First place winners of the Civic Data Challenge include:

  • Undergraduates from UC Berkeley built a website ― Politify.com ― where users can view the impact of the Presidential candidates' proposed economic policies on their pocketbooks. The team included Nikita Bier, Jeremy Blalock, Dat Duong, and Brad Voracek.
  • A team from the digital agency Razorfish Healthware in Philadelphia created an engaging video demonstrating the value of the arts to community well-being, including health, education, and satisfaction. The team included Erin Abler, Rich Eden, Ranna Jaraha, David Karalis, Benjamin Katz, Phillip Katz, Matthew Davis, Matthew Livingstone, Debra Murphy, Matthew Sutter, Tim Kin, and Abigail Zug.
  • Nicholas Doiron, a coder from San Francisco created a website ―openblockoakland.info ― that provides an interactive view of Oakland, CA local business districts, pairing economic data with user photos to attract more business and economic development.
  • Will DeKrey and Sean McDonald, a nonprofit consultant from Washington, DC and data visualization specialist from Los Angeles, respectively, created WhyGDP?. The presentation provides a detailed look at whether or not GDP is a sufficient measure and predictor of community well-being and outcomes in a number of areas.

Additional information about the winning entries, including second place awardees and honorable mentions, is available at the Civic Data Challenge website.

Over a dozen judges volunteered their time, evaluating Challenge entries based on the quality of the analysis and design, the compelling nature of the findings in the data, and the utility of the product. These judges included:

  • Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and Craigslist Connects
  • Vivek Kundra, EVP for salesforce.com and former CIO of the United States
  • Darrell Hammond, CEO and founder of KaBOOM!
  • Sonal Shah, former director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation
  • Leslie Bradshaw, President, COO and Co-founder of JESS3
  • Henry E. Brady, Dean and Professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
  • Virginia Carlson, Board Member at APDU
  • Christie George, Director of New Media Ventures
  • Beth Kanter, Author, Blogger, Trainer
  • Bob Kocher, Partner, Venrock
  • Maria Teresa Kumar, Founding Executive Director of Voto Latino
  • Matt Mahan, President and Acting CEO, Causes
  • Jake Porway, Founder and Executive Director, DataKind
  • Ryan Resella, former Technical Lead at Code for America
  • Michael D. Smith, Senior Vice President of Social Innovation at the Case Foundation
  • Jeff Stanger, Founding Director of the Center for Digital Information

The results of the challenge have also received some exciting coverage. Fast Company recently covered the challenge in their post Visualizing Civic Data to Make the Case for Civic Health. Jake Brewer, Chief Strategy Officer at Fission and a strong advocate for open-data, speaks highly of the importance of civic health data. His post, NCoC’s Civic Data Challenge: So Much More Than Just Numbers, further outlines the stories told by the findings of challenge participants.

The Civic Data Challenge is presented in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and is sponsored by the Salesforce.com Foundation. It is supported by partners such as Code for America, GOOD, the Case Foundation and Kaggle. Join the Google Group and receive updates on future challenges and opportunities.